Only in a Dogme class…

Thanks for all your interests in my previous post! Today was Day 2 of my Advanced class and boy, are they amazing! Conversations flowed, topics took surprising turns and interests were piqued in a way that only a Dogme class could afford!

The day started with a recall of the previous day’s discussions and language, and this led to them reminding me about how I clearly had a pet peeve with the London Underground and RMT. I fed in the lexis ‘pet hate’ and ‘to rant about something’ and that led to the binomial ‘to rant and rave about something’. This then led to the discussion of what a binomial was.

I decided to put them in pairs  to brainstorm in pairs and write on their mini-whiteboards as many binomials as they could think of. What emerged in the eventual mind-map I had on the board were gems like ‘out and about’, ‘down and out’, ‘rhythm and blues’, ‘trick or treat’, ‘back and forth’, ‘hit and run’ and ‘pros and cons’.

But what was more interesting was the emergence of ‘high and low’, which we figured only really existed in the expression ‘to search for something high and low’; ‘black and blue’, which often occurred with the phrase ‘He was black and blue all over’; and ‘odds and ends’ which frequently collocated with the verbs ‘to tie up’.

Once the geeks in us were pacified by this nice chunk of a language lesson, we went on to discuss their homework from the day before – finding out why some countries drove on the right and others drove on the left. Putting students in groups, I had those who did do their homework to relate to those who hadn’t a summary of what they had found out, and then moved those who had not done the necessary reading to the next group in the style of a carousel so that they could relate back what they were told to their new group members.

In open class feedback, we were fed with all kinds of information – from the mounting of the horse from the right to the avoidance of samurai swords from banging against other samurai passer-bys, but one thing was clear: We all used to drive on the left, UK-style. The righteousness of being right-handed dictated that driving on the left was a necessity. Somehow, along the way, some countries deflected…then others followed. Now, those that drive on the left are a minority…

After their break, the students were meant to come back with the adverts they had brought with them. Their homework had been to spot an advert they liked…but coincidentally and interestingly, one of the students was eating straight from a Nutella jar during the break and the conversation became about how Nutella was a lot cheaper in London than it is in Peru…

We started talking about spreads and I asked if they had tried Marmite. We looked briefly at the bell curve compared to the Marmite curve and then I showed them an advertisement of Marmite. In pairs, they then discussed the following questions: Considering the slogan, font, layout and pictures used, what do you think is the target market? What image are they trying to portray. We then went to the Marmite website and saw the memorabilia they sold and how they even had an area for haters of Marmite.

This was the perfect lead-in to the adverts they had brought to class. Using the same questions they had been asked about the Marmite advert, the students discussed the adverts they brought with them.
But in true Dogme fashion, not everything is predictable. In open class, a student was sharing a dentistry ad laid out in the style of Facebook.

The conversation moved on to social networking sites and we started talking about digital natives and how they learnt differently from digital immigrants. The students started on their views about Facebook and social networking online and it only seemed natural to put them in pairs to talk about the disadvantages of such social networking and the stories they had heard.

The buzz in the classroom reached a significant peak at this point. Students were clearly enthused by the topic and had a lot to say about it. They started talking about stories of cyber bullying and celebrity slagging matches. It seemed pointless at this point to pursue the adverts they had brought with them. This was clearly a much more interesting area that sparked reasonable debate.

I immediately searched for ‘Tom Scott’ and ‘Flash Mob Gone Wrong’ on Youtube and set the following questions ‘What happened in this story?’, ‘What happened in the end?’, ‘Is this a true story?’ and ‘What is the presenter’s message?’ and played the clip as a listening text. The discussion of what a flashmob was and how the phenomenon of the internet took us to the end of another very fruitful and exhilarating lesson.

Gosh, I love my job! Wouldn’t you?

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